Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Rebecca Levitt

Rebecca (Neminroff) Levitt was the first wife of David Levitt, a son of Max Levitt and his first wife. (David was a half brother to Rose (Levitt) Goldstein, my husband's grandmother.) Rebecca is the only person I have in my genealogy database who died during the 1918 influenza epidemic. She left her husband and three young daughters.

She is buried in Har Jehuda Cemetery, Upper Darby, Delaware County, Pennsylvania.

Photo courtesy FindAGrave.com volunteer Sheila Peascheck

Beloved Wife
And Mother
Rebecca Levitt
Died Oct. 7, 1918
Aged 35 Years
Photo courtesy FindAGrave.com volunteer Sheila Peascheck

The Hebrew is roughly translated as:
Here lies
My dear/beloved wife
Mrs. Rivka daughter of
Yerachmiel died
On the first of the month of Cheshvan
5679. May her soul be bound up in the bond of eternal life.

Translation help is from the Tracing the Tribe Facebook page and JewishGen's How to Read a Hebrew Tombstone.

Her FindAGrave memorial can be found here.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Connecting with a Handler Cousin ~ Blog as Cousin Bait

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to discuss family and think about those family who are no longer with us. When I opened my email the day after Thanksgiving this year, I found an email from a second cousin of my husband's who did just that. Gary has been making video recordings of family members for almost 30 years, knowing that they would be interesting to family members. He wrote: "I figured that either someday I would have the time to start exploring our history based on these histories or perhaps my kids or grandkids would." After watching one of his older videos (which my husband and I have now watched - it's a treasure), he thought he would search on the Internet for some of the information mentioned by his aunts in the video.

Well, up comes my blog with a good bit of family information about Handler ancestors and relatives in Ohio. He and I started an email conversation and this past weekend, enjoyed a Google chat with our respective spouses.

Sisters Esther and Helen
Well, the treasure can be found at YouTube in a two and a half hour video called: "Mishpacha Tape Helen and Esther 1988." Gary's aunt Helen and aunt Esther are first cousins of my father-in-law; their brother, Gary's dad, Morton, died at age 44 in 1972. All these cousins were born in Ohio to Regina (Handler) and Jake Solomon.

Just mentioning these aunts to my mother-in-law reminded her that my father-in-law introduced Morton (who lived in Cleveland) to Gary's mother (who lived in Akron, in an apartment in the Handler home). Gary's mother is still living and was visiting for Thanksgiving. She was thrilled that we connected online!

Some of the information about the family that Helen and Esther talk about in this video is new to me (including several photographs shared near the end); some information reinforces what I already knew; and some is in error. For example, they say that their cousin Margaret Handler was born in Hungary, as well as her older brother Arthur. However, passenger lists show otherwise.

I will share some new findings about the Handlers that I found in this video in future blog posts. I thank Gary for taking this video almost 27 years ago and sharing it at YouTube. I especially thank him for contacting me and look forward to seeing photographs that I haven't seen before!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Connecting with a Segal Cousin

In late October, I was contacted by user of Family Tree DNA, suggesting that there was a strong DNA connection between us. Since she mentioned the Segal surname, I knew it would be a match with my mother-in-law and my husband.

I'm still getting used to exploring the chromosome browser and there are several chromosome matches to my mother-in-law, but fewer with my husband. The match that is the same is on chromosome 21.

After several emails, and inviting each other to view our respective Ancestry.com online trees, we think that her second great-grandmother, Henda Segal Gershman was a sister of my husband's second great-grandfather, Simche Segal/Siegel.

Amazingly enough, although the immigrant Segals settled in Philadelphia and Woodbine, New Jersey, this new-found fourth cousin lives in the town next to ours in Massachusetts. We met for a couple of hours the night before Thanksgiving to share pictures and talk family history. I do see a similarity in some of the Segals in the first couple of generations.

The other helpful thing is that Henda Segal and her husband Louis Gershman had six children (five daughters and a son) and my mother-in-law remembers those sisters who lived in Woodbine; she remembers that they were cousins on the Segal side, but was never clear on exactly how they were cousins. It was a pleasure to confirm for her that those sisters were first cousins to her grandmother, Golda (her photo at right).

I have blogged about Simche Segal's gravestone translation. I also have images of his passenger lists. I blogged about him and his family in census records here and here. I have also shared his 1919 death certificate.

Below is an attempt to graphically display the generations descended from the unknown third great grandparents.

Unknown parents (father possibly Yehuda)
|                                          |
Simche Segal                  Henda Segal Gershman
|                                          |
Golda Segal Levitt                      Sadie Gershman Seltzer
|                                          |
Rose Levitt Goldstein                       Annie Seltzer Walowitz
|                                          |
Mother-in-law                    New-found 3rd cousin
|                                          |
Husband                       New-found 4th cousin

Simche Segal's gravestone indicates his father's name is Yehuda; his death certificate indicates his father's name is Israel. (I'm inclined to believe the gravestone.) Henda (Segal) Gershman died in 1909. Her death certificate indicates "unknown" for her father's name. She is buried at Har Nebo Cemetery in Philadelphia and I am looking forward to seeing if the Hebrew on her gravestone can confirm a father's name of Yehuda.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday ~ George and Elizabeth Levitt

George Levitt was the oldest full brother of Rose Levitt, my husband's maternal grandmother. I have written a little bit about him previously.

Photo courtesy FindAGrave contributor, Mark Barnett (48059838).

George and his wife Elizabeth (also known as Betty) are buried in Montefiore Cemetery, Jenkintown, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, where I have recently discovered that many of my mother-in-law's extended family are buried.

The Hebrew above George's name can be roughly translated as Yuda (aka Yehuda) Leib son of Mordecai. Again, I thank the members of the Tracing the Tribe Facebook page for assistance with this translation.

George's father, Mordecai, was also known as Max Levitt, and I shared his gravestone very early on in this blog.

The Hebrew above Elizabeth's name is Leah daughter of Gershon. I wrote about her mother's naturalization here.

George Levitt's FindAGrave memorial is here. Elizabeth Levitt's FindAGrave memorial is here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday ~ William and Rachel Siegel

Rachel (Segal) Siegel was the older sister of Gussie or Golda (Segal) Levitt, my husband's great-grandmother. Rachel and her husband, William, are buried at Montefiore Cemetery, Jenkintown, Pennsylvania.

One side of their gravestone is in English:

I am surprised to see 1869 as birth year for both of them, because usually when the birth year of immigrant parents is not known for sure, it is usually not mentioned on the gravestone. I'm sure it was a guess, as I have seven different sources providing a birth year for Rachel from 1866 to 1873 and eight different sources providing a birth year from 1864 to 1871 for William.

The other side of their gravestone is in Hebrew:

The Hebrew on the left is for William: Zev son of Reb Yitzhak / Died 28 Adar 5701 [Zev is Hebrew for Wolf, which is what he was known as earlier in his life.]
Rachel daughter of Reb Simcha / Died 8 Adar 5709 [See her father's all-Hebrew gravestone here.]

View Rachel's FindAGrave memorial and William's FindAGrave memorial.

Photos courtesy of FindAGrave.com volunteer, Charles Zar.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tuesday's Tip ~ View Next Page (for Inquest Results)

In July, I shared the Pennsylvania death certificate for a great uncle of my husband, William Siegel.

In a recent "conversation" with the FindAGrave.com volunteer who took a photo of his gravestone, when he asked if I had the death certificate, I replied that yes, I did, but it didn't show the cause of death, and the family story was that he was hit by a car on his way to synagogue. He replied and let me know that, yes, this was the cause of death and all I had to do was click on the next image arrow at the website.

So, today's tip is to remember to View the Next Page in a series of images, especially if you have a question about the initial image you have located.

Here is the original death certificate that I shared in July.

When I clicked on the right arrow at the bottom of the image (in Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1944, at Ancestry.com), I get the following image:

The following are the details of the inquest on the second death certificate (handwritten (or stamped) items in blue):

Name: William Siegal
Residence: 1610 N. 52nd St, Philadelphia
17. I hereby certify that an inquest was held upon the body of the above named deceased on the APR 19, 1941 day of ____ 193__; that the jury rendered a verdict giving the cause of death as follows: Fracture of femur, Pulmonary embolism
Other contributory causes of importance: struck by auto

23. If death was due to external causes (violence), fill in also the following:
Accident, suicide, or homicide? accid[ent]  Date of injury: 3/12, 1941
Where did injury occur? Phila.
Specify whether injury occurred in industry, in home, or in public place:
bet 1707-09 N. 52nd St
Manner of injury: Fract[ure]
Nature of injury: auto

So it looks like he was hit by a car just down the street from where he lived on March 12, 1941. This was a Wednesday and the 13th of Adar in the Jewish calendar. The joyous Jewish holiday of Purim (the 14th of Adar) started at sundown that day. It must not have been very joyous for the Siegel family for their 73-year-old (or 75-year-old) father to break his leg, and then have him die two weeks later.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Litwin Family in Oheb Shalom Cemetery

Sophie (Lewites) Litwin and her husband, Samuel Litwin, are buried at Oheb Shalom Cemetery, in Hillside, New Jersey. I got a chance to briefly visit during our annual summer drive to visit family in southern New Jersey. We found the burial plot just as the rain started.

The Litwin family plot has four burials.

Husband and Father
Samuel Litwin

Wife and Mother
Sophie Litwin

Husband and Father
David M. Litwin

Wife and Mother
Minna Krasner Litwin

Sophie was a sister of Emanuel Levitas (who is buried on Staten Island, NY) and Max Levitt (who is buried in Woodbine, NJ). I wrote about Assemblyman David Litwin here.

Interesting to note that these gravestones do not include any Hebrew. This is the first Jewish cemetery that I have visited that had many gravestones without Hebrew inscriptions.